Sunday, 26 May 2013

The future of gaming - the Hollywood Syndrome

It's official - all cards are now on the table for the 3rd generation of 21st century games consoles; Microsoft has this week announced the Xbox One, while Sony has placed their ace of spades in with the Playstation4. Both were met with equal criticism and praise from both techheads and gamers alike.

Both look as though they will hit the shelves of the United Kingdom, Japan, Korea, Western Europe and North America by Winter of 2013, in time for the Christmas dash.  The introductions of these new consoles were naturally - in typical style of Sony and Microsoft fashion - in the same style as introducing a rock star to stage.

A few years ago I would have been one of the many drones who would be sitting there with a bottle of champagne, ready to pop the cork as soon as the unveils were brought forth but this year it was different, this year there was absolutely no excitement for the new consoles which I find almost saddening, almost as though some part of my childhood has died as I turn 20 this year. I watched both, and at both I was left more pessimistic than how I started. It wasn't the consoles themselves that had let down what little excitement for console gaming I had; the consoles themselves have been designed with some amazing specs and I was happy to see that AMD was chosen to build the construct hardware for both, no it was the games and features that were so bragged about. 

Both had made the case that these new consoles would become the next media centres of the world; that they would replace everything that had existed previously for media viewing. I'm a gamer, I tuned in to the unveiling for that purpose - to see what the future held for the art and beauty of gaming, and I was left very much wondering how much money was going to be added to the cost of my enjoyment of gaming for the add-ons of media. I have a laptop, many do, this is the centre for media at the moment, and sorry Sony and Microsoft, that will never change. People use their laptops for media streaming due to the versatile dynamics of user-based content on the internet and not necessarily the quality of use. Admittedly, Sony were most sympathetic to the needs of their user base as the PS3 was more in terms of a PC with heavily dedication to gaming with a web browser and the ability to customize and download content via the web browser straight to the system - it was well in advance of the Xbox 360, which had always fell behind due to Microsoft's neo-nazi approach to user content and custom content.
All that aside, I understand that - as a gamer- I've been lucky to have been through the twilight years of the last few generations; I have had a original Sega Mega Drive, PS1/2/3. Xbox original and Xbox 360 - As well as many hand held devices such as the Gameboy Colour, SP and original DS - and now there's a new generation of game who will continue putting revenue into the art.

So, unveil came and passed, and finally both Sony and Microsoft cast the final nail into the coffin of my willingness to buy the next consoles, this absolute disgrace to our intellect as gamers and consumers:

Even as a blogger, words can fail me, so I'm just going to use the image below to describe my feelings on this: someone who's played Call of Duty for nearly 10 years, I can safely say that the very motion of another Call of Duty game brings my bowels to equally sickening production. This is where we begin to enter into the Hollywood Syndrome aspect of this article. 

Understandably it's early days, however the list of games so far has been composed mostly of franchises which have been done to death over the course of the 360 and PS3; my duty is to bring to light these disgraces...

EA and UFC are the primary indication of fail
Multi-million Dollar budget, forgot to find someone to come up with a more creative name
File:Bungie - Destiny (logo).jpg
Because Bungie calling it either 'Fuck you Microsoft' or 'Halo for Playstation' would probably break a law

Almost the entire list for the new consoles have been branches of already failing franchises or sequels/prequels to games that were out many years ago. The gaming industry has fallen into the Hollywood Syndrome where they are using nothing but games that have existed before and have a following or additional stories to already existing franchises. The console gaming community has fallen into this stagnation which is entirely to blame by the corporate nature of the new-age Microsoft and Sony developers. I remember a time when gaming could just be for fun without the need for a massively over the top expensively failing story line. Only in the course of my 7 years of next generation gaming have I encountered a few games that were either successful for their artistic values, or just so fun that there was no need for that much depth:

Bassists, fucking the police over est. 1956

All of the above games have something in common: they're fun or compelling to play, and we leave with a feeling that we've evolved as humans for playing them. We leave with more happiness and for Gears and Mass Effect, we leave feeling we took part in a journey after spending so much time and effort on characters who we viewed evolving themselves with us. 

The failings of console gaming isn't representative of the entire gaming community. PC gaming is booming in ways which no one could have imagined a few years ago. 


The main reason in my eyes are the non corporate attributes of PC gaming: look at the success of games such as SlenderMan: The 8 Pages and Minecraft. Both these games have early 3D style graphics, with nothing too complex about their game play. Both were developed by individuals. And both pretty much kicked the asses of any mainstream corporate game that went onto the PC. If mainstream gaming for the console is to take anything from this article, then let it be that we, as gamers, would rather have a shitty 32bit game that kept us amused for hours than a multi-million piece of corporate investment scum that was so complicated that our attention spans died with the 20 minutes of advertisements before the game screen.

Let's continue the picture guide...
Free shit: For PC gamers and deadbeats

Indie: Indie games and gamers. Exhibit A, an Indie gamer with jaw dropping graphics

And last but not least: PC gamers had access to everything 'innovative' that console gamers will be receiving:

Skype - PC gamers have been utilizing that since release
Multi-media - PC gamers have been broadcasting game play since around 1999
Motion control - Made popular around 2000-2005, made pointless by being a gimmick and mothballed
Voice control - Made popular 1998-2005, made pointless by being a gimmick and mothballed
Two way communication with console - I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that
Virtual hard drive - well virtually every MMOs' for PC have virtual hard drives for storing game data
Solid State Hard Drives - PC Gamers have been installing 1tb+ solid state hard drives since 2008
User interface control via motion/voice - I achieved this on Windows Vista, in 2008

And the final call to bullshit of 'innovation': Improved Graphics...lemme just see how innovative this really is...

Default for PC is standard for Console, High Res only for PC
Skyrim PC graphics with a few mods
Skyrim for Xbox

I'll leave on the note that I'm sure there will be a lot of awesome features on the Xbox One and PS4 however if you intend to game, then spend the money in upgrading your current PC or laptop build, or just invest in a new PC. The future is here for gaming, and it 20 year old technology - the PC!

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